First updated Fennec returned to the French Air Force
The French Air Force has recieved the first Eurocopter AS555AN Fennec updated by Thales, it has been revealed.
The aircraft, which was delivered back to Villacoublay on 5 January, is the first of 40 Fennecs undergoing the upgrade to improve the aircraft's avionics suite, adding improved navigational aids that bring the aircraft up to the standards required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The upgrade programme launched in 2009 will update all the Fennecs operated by the French armed forces including the 18 used by the French Army Air Corps. The suite includes the integration of two Garmin 430 GPS systems coupled to the autopilot, a cockpit voice recorder, transponder, and new navigation displays for the crew.
Lt Col Jerome Fleith, commander of the helicopter squadron 3 / 67 "Paris" at Villacoublay, who recieved the first aircraft, said: 'This renovation has three advantages: first it allows us to wait for the replacement of the fleet by the HC4, a helicopter in the four ton class. On the other hand, it offers a navigation aid for air policing and improves the safety of this mission that we provide throughout the year.
'Finally, it greatly increases the interoperability of devices in the aircraft joint, combined and interdepartmental, for public service missions for example.'
The upgrade programme will run up to 2016. As well as updating the Fennecs operating in France from Villacoublay and Orange, aircraft serving in the Ivory Coast, Gabon and French Guinea will also be updated.
Source: By Tony Osborne in London, Kan., 12 January 2012- Shephard Group / Rotorhub News(www.shephardmedia.com)
Photo: The French Air Force Eurocopter AS555AN Fennec (Photo by shephardmedia)